The Biden administration told a Texas federal court Friday that it plans to appeal an order by a judge that invalidates the Affordable Care Act’s promise of free preventive health services to every American with private health insurance.
The notice came a day after U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor issued an order that immediately invalidates nationwide the ACA’s guarantee of preventive services — including cancer screening and medicines to prevent HIV or heart disease. O’Connor is the judge who, in 2018, ruled the entire ACA unconstitutional in a case that reached the Supreme Court, which preserved the law for the third time in a decade.
The decision affects any type of services defined or updated by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force in the 13 years that the health-care law has existed. O’Connor’s order does not touch other types of prevention, including contraception or vaccines, that are required by other parts of the Department of Health and Human Services and that, unlike the task force, involve approval by presidential appointees.
Legal experts and public health advocates who have followed the case, begun in 2020 by a group of conservative Christian businesses and individuals, had predicted the administration would appeal O’Connor’s ruling. The administration also has been expected to seek a stay, to prevent the judge’s injunction so that the no-charge services are protected while the case is being appealed to the circuit court and, potentially, the Supreme Court.